Beginning its second season in the Sun Belt Conference, the Texas State volleyball team will go into the Houston Cougar Classic this Friday with the mentality of “one at a time.”
Coach Karen Chisum will lead the team in the two-day tournament against Lamar University, a former Southland conference opponent, the University of Houston and a team the Bobcats have never played, Wake Forest University. The three teams combined for a 43-52 record last season.
“We have not focused on any opponents,” Chisum said. “We are coming in here every day working on our fundamentals. We’re trying to improve our individual fundamentals and trying to put our teamwork together. We’re preparing for Texas State and who we are. We haven’t focused on any particular opponent other than what we’re doing on our side of the court.”
Practices, which began Aug. 9, have been heavily focused on ball control. Chisum feels that in addition to ball control, defense will also need to be capitalized on going into the tournament in order to ensure success.
Alexandra Simms, senior outside hitter, feels that defense has developed into the team’s strong suit. The Bobcats allowed a 16.2 hitting percentage last season, the second-best percentage in the conference.
“Our libero, Sierra Smith, leads the back row, and she always helps the hitters on where to hit,” Simms said. “I think the back row is our biggest strength right now.”
While it’s early in the season, Chisum admits that the team is not where she wants it to be, citing her disappointment in fall camp. The Bobcats recently welcomed ten new players, the team chemistry is still developing, and issues with ball control are still being worked out. Despite Chisum’s disappointment, she feels it has brought about opportunities for others that previously didn’t exist and compliments the team’s work ethic and dedication to a successful season.
“We have challenges all of the time,” Chisum said. “We like challenges. We like adversity. We just have to get bigger, better and stronger.”
With a recent injury to Caylin Mahoney, senior setter, the team has had to make major adjustments to its offensive game.
“We’re running a different offense than we had anticipated running, and that’s what we’re working on,” Chisum said. “I think we’re going to be a good serving team and a good ball control team.”
While Smith and Chisum believe that Houston and Lamar match up well against the Bobcats, the real anticipation lies in returning to the court. These will be the first games of the season for all teams participating in the tournament.
“We’re just excited to play,” Chisum said. “We’re excited to get our jerseys on, get over there and measure up against someone else besides us. It’s going to be an interesting tournament for us.”
Follow Mariah Medina on Twitter: @Mariahmedinaaa